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20 of the World’s Most Legendary and Unique Theatres

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Connoisseur's Guide · Europe · germany · Berlin · 20 of the World’s Most Legendary and Unique Theatres

Renaissance Theatre

Author: Margarita Zieda0 COMMENTS

Renaissance Theatre

The only Art Deco theatre building in Europe to have completely retained its original appearance, a cultural landmark protected by the state, the Renaissance Theatre rebuilt by the architect Oskar Kaufmann is a true 1920s gem. Its stained glass elements featured in the façade, lit up at night, tell the story of a completely different Berlin - young and energetic, a new cosmopolitan cultural metropolis emerging from the earlier grey, massive and heavy Prussian architecture. The 1920s Berlin press compared the Renaissance Theatre to a palace of fairies where the façade's promise of colour and light materialises in the miniscule interior through the power of a wonderful fantasy.
Despite the fact that Berlin was almost completely destroyed during World War II, the 1911 'Duck Fountain' (Entenbrunnen) designed by August Grahl has survived undamaged in front of the theatre building.
Incidentally, the 'Renaissance' in the name of the theatre has nothing whatsoever to do neither with the architectural style or decor of the building, nor the repertoire of the company: it is an allusion to the time when it was born: namely, the 1920s when theatres were being increasingly 'squeezed out' by picture houses, provoking the great German stage director Max Reinhardt's lament to the effect that moving pictures were acting like brutal bandits, robbing from the theatre both the spectators from the other side of the ticket office window and actors from the backstage. The Renaissance Theatre was born in the building of the former Terra Cinema, making its name a reference to the idea of a theatre renaissance in a cultural space taken over by the film industry.
Today, it is a privately-owned theatre, its repertoire mostly consisting of much acclaimed award-winning plays that are famous worldwide, in Germany, New York, Paris and Amsterdam alike. As often as not, these are comedies and drawing-room plays, so that it makes sense to choose one that would suit your taste before you buy a ticket to enjoy the Art Deco celebration of colour, forms and lines. The repertoire is diverse and so is the quality of the productions.
In this age of the director's theatre, this company is playing it differently: putting its money on star actors. One of the most beautiful traditions of this theatre, it was born in the 1920s. The stars who have trodden the stage boards here include Russian and French, as well as German actors: Olga Chekhova, Tilla Durieux, Elisabeth Bergner, Helene Weigel, Otto Sander, Ilja Richter, Maximillian Schell.
This policy of engaging world-renowned actors makes it financially possible for the company to add a few extremely non-commercial pieces to their repertoire alongside the box-office hits, including, for instance, 'Phèdre', the 17th-century French Classicist tragedy by Jean Racine (considered untranslatable into German for 400 years), starring the great German actress Corinna Kirchhoff in the title role.

Renaissance Theater
100 Knesebeckstraße

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